Capitol Police officers sue Trump, right-wing groups over Jan. 6

Seven U.S. Capitol Police officers on Thursday filed a lawsuit against former President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE, Trump ally Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneBannon says he discussed how to 'kill this administration in the crib' with Trump before Jan. 6 Roger Stone served with Capitol riot lawsuit during radio interview Lawyer for 17 Jan. 6 defendants says he's been released from hospital MORE and members of right-wing extremist groups over their role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

The civil rights suit alleges Trump, acting in concert with groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, engaged in acts of domestic terrorism designed to unlawfully keep him in power despite losing the 2020 election.

The plaintiffs, five of whom are Black, say the effort was fueled by the defendants’ promotion of white supremacist-laden conspiracy theories and lies about the election being swayed by widespread voter fraud, particularly in areas with significant Black populations. 

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“As this lawsuit makes clear, the Jan. 6 insurrection was not just an attack on individuals, but an attack on democracy itself,” said Damon Hewitt, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is representing the officers. “It was a blatant attempt to stifle the votes and voices of millions of Americans, particularly Black voters.”

The complaint, filed in a Washington, D.C. federal court, follows several similar lawsuits filed in recent months, but is the first to accuse Trump of conspiring with far-right groups to use “force, intimidation and threats” to block Congress from certifying Joe BidenJoe BidenFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push Protesters demonstrate outside Manchin's houseboat over opposition to reconciliation package Alabama eyes using pandemic relief funds on prison system MORE’s presidential election. 

In addition to naming Trump and his campaign as defendants, the lawsuit also implicated more than a dozen members of extremist groups and political organizations. Among those were Stone, a longtime right-wing provocateur and recipient of presidential clemency under Trump, who allegedly raised funds for the Jan. 6 pro-Trump event and was a key promoter of Trump’s “Big Lie.”

The suit alleges that Trump and the other defendants violated both state law and provisions of the Ku Klux Klan Act, an 1871 federal statute that makes it illegal to use force or threats to prevent federal officers from carrying out their official duties.

The 71-page complaint contains firsthand accounts of the plaintiffs, including from Governor Latson, a Black officer and 35-year veteran of the Capitol Police force. Latson says he sustained injuries “from being physically struck by attackers,” as well as from being sprayed with “noxious pepper spray, bear spray, fire extinguishers and other pollutants.”

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“As Officer Latson attempted to secure the third-floor doors to the Senate Chamber with other officers, a crowd of attackers attempted to enter through the doors. One attacker shoved Officer Latson during this altercation,” the complaint states. “Attackers then breached the Senate Chamber, physically assaulted Officer Latson, and hurled racial slurs at him, including ‘n****r.’”

Trump so far has avoided legal punishment for his role in the Jan. 6 riot. He was impeached by the House for inciting his supporters to violence, but was acquitted following his Senate trial.

Experts are divided over whether the Justice Department should pursue charges against Trump and his associates for their broader efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election. 

Yet the lawsuit comes as Trump faces legal jeopardy on other fronts. The Manhattan district attorney has convened a special grand jury as part of his criminal probe in Trump’s business dealings, which has fueled speculation over whether he could become the first former U.S. president to serve prison time.

—Updated at 1:15 p.m.